I'm glad you did this comparison. Early on when I was learning about watches, I saw a 39mm Railmaster for sale at a grey market store and walked back to it twice before deciding I should pass. I felt some remorse about letting that one go, but seeing it compared to the 36mm for the first time makes me think smaller can be a plus in this case.
Hi everyone - Here's another comparing picture of the Explorer 36 mm and the Railmaster 36 mm. In my subjective opinion the railmaster wears slightly larger.
The 36mm arrived in good condition and well this is getting interesting... it really is quite a bit smaller than the 39mm version. It kind of feels a little tinier and jewelry like than what I expected. A lot lighter as well which is not a bad thing. I do have 50's dress watch Omega with 35mm case so I'm used to smaller watches but the difference between these two Railmasters really surprised me. In a way they seem to have very distinct natures.
The thin strap attached is not a good one though. With a bracelet it should appear a bit larger, right?
Looked at this thread and read every single post last summer when I was looking at getting a 2503.80 or 2504.80 (39mm vs 36mm 2500 AT, respectively) - shoutouts to everyone for contributing. Ended up going with a 2503.80 39mm for a 6.75inch flat-ish wrist. I'd echo the sentiment that 1) pictures have an effect of making watches looking way bigger than they are (mirror shots, etc. are crucial) and 2) wrist shape matters a lot more than wrist size.
Ended up flipping the AT for an SMPc 2500, but sometimes I do miss the clean and classy 2500 AT dial...
Further, although the DJ41 (126300, true diameter 39.5mm and L2L of 47.5mm) has similar dimensions to the 39.2mm AT 2500, it wears just a tiny bit larger (and probably maybe even a tiny bit larger than my SMPc), which is interesting... (maybe due to the large dial and protruding solid endlinks. I wish Rolex sometimes were a little bit more like Omega in its lug design (love the torqued lugs on my SMP, for example).
That being said, I wouldn't expect the bracelet to make the watch significantly larger. It may to some extent due to the solid end links making the lug to lug distance slightly longer and therefore widening the point where the bracelet turns down around your wrist. But don't expect a night and day difference.
For me, I knew pretty soon that the 39 was too big for me. I wanted a watch that would not take up my whole wrist. A watch that takes up my whole wrist (in my mind) is a sport watch, and while the Railmaster is a very versatile watch, it's not a pure sport watch. It's somewhere in between.
Last point, is dial size. To me, case size is second to lug to lug and more importantly dial size. The 36 mm Railmaster has a larger dial size than my explorer 2. (28mm vs 27.8ishmm). The bezel on the explorer 2 is where that extra 3mm are gained and it keeps the proportions ideal.
36mm is a classic size for a men's watch. But if I didn't have the bracelet for the Railmaster I would not where it as much. I'll admit that. It's on an alligator strap right now and it's seeing less wrist time.
Hope that helps. Let me know.
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The strap I have right now for the 36 is actually quite horrible. I just ordered a hand made Shell Cordovan strap in bourbon which should arrive next week. It'll surely change things for the better already. After that I'll have to think about the bracelet more seriously. And for that it's good to know that it doesn't make that much difference sizewise. Stylewise it's surely a nobrainer.
To liven up the thread a bit....
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